By Staff Correspondent
India continues to make waves at the Paris Air Show, with Air India poised to finalise an impressive order for 470 planes from Airbus and Boeing, according to sources familiar with the matter. This deal, outlined in February, initially held the record for the largest number of planes in an order announcement. However, on the show’s first day, Indian competitor IndiGo surpassed it with an order for 500 Airbus narrowbody jets.
Domestic airlines in India have been striving to keep pace with the rapid growth of the country’s aviation market, serving its vast population. This surge in demand has led to record-breaking orders, even as manufacturers grapple with supply chain challenges that hinder their production targets.
According to a report by Barclays, Indian carriers now possess the second-largest order book, representing over 6% of the industry backlog, second only to the United States. Nevertheless, some analysts express concerns about potential over-ordering as airlines compete for the same pool of passengers.
The provisional deal struck by Air India includes 250 planes from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. Airbus will provide 210 A320neo narrowbodies and 40 A350 widebodies, while Boeing’s contribution comprises 190 737 MAX, 20 787 Dreamliners, and 10 mini-jumbo 777X aircraft. An additional 25 Airbus jets will be leased, bringing the total acquisition to 495 aircraft, as disclosed by an Airbus executive earlier.
Air India, once known for its opulently decorated planes and excellent service, faced financial troubles that tarnished its reputation in the mid-2000s. Under the stewardship of the Tata conglomerate, the airline is undergoing a renaissance to capitalise on India’s growing base of air travellers and its substantial diaspora worldwide, which is currently predominantly served by foreign competitors like Emirates. This mega-order will bolster Air India’s competitiveness against budget carrier IndiGo, which currently holds a majority share of the Indian market and a strong position in regional flights.
In other developments at the show, Ethiopian Airlines anticipates announcing an order for approximately 130 Airbus and Boeing planes shortly after the event. Additionally, Philippine Airlines has confirmed its order for nine Airbus A350-1000 widebody jets, while Qantas has solidified its deal for nine Airbus A220-300s.